About two years ago Brian and I traveled to London for a week. We toured museums, gazed at some awesome art, strolled though the city, saw lots of fantastic architecture, and indulged in many fantastic food items. We ate a variety of different ethnic foods within the first couple of days when I noticed that we are in London and have not had any traditional British food. So I asked the front dest at our hotel - Where do I find a good British meal? They responded with an answer that was so obvious I felt a little dumb - At any pub you will find a great traditional British meal! So I started surveying the menus of all the pubs we came across. The menus were all pretty much the same. That was until we were walking though Notting Hill and stumbled upon a pretty large, yet quaint pub. We looked over the menu and get this…there was even vegetarian options! We sat down, had ourselves a pint each and dinned on some wonderful British food. The waitress told us that they had a great StickyToffee Pudding for dessert. You did not need to tell me twice about that. We ordered it to split, and when it came it was warm and wonderful. We scooped away at this moist and delicious toffee pudding. I don’t think we even really said anything to one another, just grinned and mumered - MMMMMMMM! But this dessert was not really a pudding. It was more like a cake that was baked into a ramekin that had a toffee sauce poured over top of it that was absorbed by the cake. Cake or pudding, either way, it was great.
Two years later I am still thinking about that dessert so much so that I am writing about it now. I needed to make it to see if I could get anything close to it in flavor and texture. I researched recipes and finally came up with something that I thought might just work. I made it and surprised Brian when he came home from work. He was just as thrilled as I was and after eating it (and going back for seconds) we both agreed that it might possibly be better than the one we had in London. I needed a second opinion. Brian wrapped up a few of the others and brought them into some of his coworkers to enjoy. They all thanked us and exclaimed it was terrific! Maybe this recipe I worked on was perfect?!? So this past week when my cousin Judy’s husband was here on business I made it again. I figured it was a perfect dessert for him since he previously lived in London for awhile. If anyone, he would give me an honest opinion. As he ate it he exclaimed that he loved it. He even told me it was better than the ones he tried while living or traveling in England. I was so pleased. I just might have the perfect recipe on my hands!
So of course I needed to share it with you here. That and I packed up two of these little cakes for Judy, I knew her husband would fly home with them safely. The following day I received and email from her asking for the recipe…I guess she was won over by it too!
In the research I did about this dessert I found out that if you roll the cake in the toffee sauce (as opposed to just pouring it over the top) your end result will be more moist. I also increased the amount of dates (yes, dates are in this dessert) to impart a more rich yet delicate flavor to the dessert besides giving the cake a more velvety feel. This cake is quite simple to make, takes almost no time to bake and making the sauce is strait forward enough that the most difficult thing about this recipe is waiting for it to cool before finishing it all off. I did restrain myself, but that just meant there were more for me to enjoy the next day. I think this is a must try for anyone; anyone who enjoys something sweet and moist with toffee sauce to go along with it. But that is no one but me I am sure!?!
Sticky Toffee Date Cake (Makes about 14 - 16 servings)
**AKA Sticky Toffee Pudding
2 cups fresh dates (pitted)
1 cup boiling water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 scant cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
12 oz butter, plus more for greasing
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
2/3 cup milk
First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 14 - 16 molds (be it cup cake pan, ramekins, or silicone molds). Chop the dates by hand until you have a fine chop, or place the dates in the bowl of a food processor and pulse it until your dates are chopped quite finely. Place the chopped dates in a bowl and over it pour the boiling water. Let it sit and rest so that the dates plump up and soften.
Next, in a bowl place your butter and your brown sugar. Mix it together until it is light and fluffy, Add in your eggs, one at a time until they are evenly combined and your mixture is smooth. Stir in the vanilla and the molasses and mix until well combined.
Then, in a bowl place your flour along with your baking soda and baking powder. Whisk it together and add half of it too your butter mixture. Mix it until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. Follow with half of your milk and stir it in well. Repeat this and again make sure all is completely mixed together and smooth.
Meanwhile, strain off any of the excess water that may be in your dates, without pressing on them as you do so (you want the dates to stay as plump as possible). Gently stir the dates into your batter. It may look a bit uneven, but that is fine; it is just because they are so moist.
Finally, pour or scoop the batter into your pan / molds / ramekins until they are 1/3 full. Place them in the center of your oven and bake about 20 - 25 minutes, until they are firm and set to the touch. Let cool slightly before finishing with the sauce. (Directions and recipe below.)
2 cups dark brown sugar
4 oz butter, cut into small chunks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp molasses
First, place a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. In the pan place your butter and dark brown sugar stirring until your sugar is dissolved as the butter has melted.
Next, add the vanilla and molasses to your cream. Slowly add the mixture to your pan stirring it constantly. You are looking for the brown sugar mixture to smooth out. You can let it simmer just a bit, but not too much as you do not want to end up with a thick sauce. Just heat through snd simmer until mixture is nice and smooth.
Then, remove the sauce from the heat and remove your cakes from what you baked them in (they should be cooled by now). Gently dip, or roll the individual cakes in the sauce. and place them on a plate or platter. Poor the remainder of the sauce over the top of the cakes.
Finally, cakes are ready to serve as it. If you will not be serving them for a day or two it is best to cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. It is best to remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature at east two hours before serving. When served be sure to scoop up the toffee sauce along with your cake.